Working Title 04.07.12: Working Mini-Rant: Driver: San Francisco is AWESOME.
Posted by Jordan Williams on 04.07.2012
Every once in awhile I actually just play a game I like...and just feel like gushing about it. This is one of those times.
The only column that actually thought Operation Raccoon City was going to be good..
Welcome to the #1 Column to think that EA is NOT the worst company of 2011/2012, WORKING TITLE! Man, this shit...fucking...just...I am at a LOSS FOR WORDS. We get it! Some of you hated the Mass Effect 3 ending but the reactions to this have ranged from sensorial to nonsensical to just flat out fucking PETTY. I said on the week where everyone beat ME3 that I was NOT going to do a big ass ME3 Ending Rant column and I was staying out of this lunacy.
And I still am. I just want to say...You all are fucking it up for the rest of us with some of the bullshit going on here. Draw your own conclusions.
With that said this week's Working Title is going to be a short one. I don't have it in me to once again tear Capcom a new asshole or bother hopping into this Mass Effect 3 Hysteria so I actually have to be...positive...for once.
This is normally the part where I do a Working Backlog but my week has been pretty much devoted to two games. The first one being Mass Effect 3, which at this point has hit such a saturation on the internet that I don't even feel like adding more to it. Plus my opinions of the game haven't changed from last issue's Working Backlog (plus the spoiler bit at the bottom) and Driver: San Francisco.
Which...you know what? I usually shit on the random shit GameFly sends me between big releases but once in awhile there's a gem in the rough. A game that was either overlooked or shat on that I genuinely liked. Driver: SF wasn't shit on by critics but virtually no one talked about it. So just like Deadly Premonition, Alpha Protocol and Dynasty Warriors...it turns out that...
Working Title Mini-Rant - Driver: San Francisco is AWESOME
Oh man, it's been a long time since I've done one of these. There's time when I find a game that either no one played, or everyone played and hated that I actually genuinely liked because either the story or the gameplay or SOMETHING kept me going. So I indulge in my little inner child and just gush about it for an entire column.
This is one of those columns.
Let me start off by saying that if there is one thing I hate more in video games above underwater levels and invisible walls...it's driving. I fucking hate driving in video games where driving is the main chicken. That's not to say I don't find open world games where vehicles can be driven fun. It's just that video game driving tends to swing really one of two ways with me.
You either get arcade-y driving that I can do and actually like but it's boring. Or you get the "Super Sim" driving where if you don't take a turn right you are sent careening off of the track or spinning me out. So when I got Driver: SF in my mail from GameFly a chill ran down my spine.
We meet again.
You see...back when I was a pre-teen the original Driver came out. My cousin had it and I remember it was where I started my hate for video game driving. Why? Because I could not fucking beat the tutorial.
The fucking TUTORIAL. From that point on I liked all of my racing games like I liked my women.
Really fast and chock-full of mushrooms.
But as the years went on my hate for in-game driving drifted back into acceptable levels. I can handle the occasional drive as long as the controls are responsive enough and it gets me from point A to point B. But Driver was always that one monkey I couldn't beat. It was always there haunting me. Because of that Driver pretty much sad on my coffee table while I played through SSX and Mass Effect 3 because I just didn't want to be hurt again. But now that Mass Effect 3 has been beating and SSX has stalled out a bit I figure I would pop Driver in and give it a spin before the next big thing came out.
I was expected a mediocre driving game with a terrible story. What I got was...a pretty great driving game with an equally inventive (if not super silly) story. And I was fucking SURPRISED.
Now isn't the first Driver game to ever have a story, but it is the first one to try this whole new "Shift" mechanic that at first seems completely stupid and nonsensical until you play around with it and get it in the context of the story...and then it all just seems to flow and run pretty good.
You see you control a painfully generic cop by the name of Tanner and his painfully generic black side kid name...Uh...fuck. I dunno. That's not important. What's important is that DSF is a Quantum Leap episode on wheels.
That is, assuming you all know what Quantum Leap is...in which case if you don't I am deeply saddened for the current generation that will never grow up with Scott Bakula before he was on the second worst season of Star Trek and the second best season of Chuck. Anyway, the early in the game some serious shit goes down and Tanner ends up in a coma. Somehow this coma has now granted him a special power that allows him to "shift" into other drivers in San Francisco. Meaning that while one second he is driving his car around as himself, he can have an 'outer-body' experience and port his soul into another driver and control them unbeknownst the driver and the passenger(s). At first this is used to cheesy effect and an excuse to explain side missions but it is quickly then wrapped into the larger story overall and is used to GREAT effect.
Tanner needs to track down a criminal/terrorist by the name of Jericho. He uses his new found power to teleport himself into the consciousness of various drivers on the mean streets of San Francisco to come at the case from different angles and do all of the work he can. Not going to spoil the story too much but just the fact that they give you an explanation and an application of this power is fucking fantastic...but the gameplay ramifications of it are even better.
Imagine doing a standard "Need for Speed" style car chase. You are bobbing and weaving in and out of traffic to perform a P.I.T maneuver on the suspect but his car is either just too fast or you are just too slow. In any other game this would be an exercise in frustration. How do you get around that in DSF?
You shift into another cop car and while switching between the two (with a single button press, mind you) you maneuver both cars essentially at the same time to box the perp in. Or you can use the shift ability in my favorite way...
You shift into a car into the oncoming lane and RAM HIM FROM THE FRONT WITH A FUCKING BUS.
You can literally just warp the world around you to fit your needs and goals to meet the outcome YOU want. Have a race against some street racers? You can jump into other cars and take the other cars OUT OF THE RACE and then finish it on your own terms. To be an even bigger dick you can actually go onto to constantly switch between the 1st Place and 2nd Place car so you technically win the race in both 1st AND 2nd place. But what makes me love this mechanic even more...is that this is probably the best storytelling tool they have in the game.
You see while you are trying to piece together the terrorist plot that is going on Tanner needs to see the crimes and the plot from different angles. Some of these threads are connected directly to the plot such as constantly interfering with low-level thugs operations to keep him away from the police so they can lead you into Jericho's plot. Some of these threads are completely unrelated to the story, but run throughout most of the game like the tale of two Japanese Street Racers who are just trying to earn money for college who end up WAY over their heads. The Shift System also handles side missions wonderfully. Each one is sort of a "slice of live" little story that actually have story beats and (mostly) funny moments.
A few stand outs are a mission where you have to run from the cops because The Driver's Girlfriend's Boss has framed her for money laundering and they need to make it to the airport in enough time to get away -- but you have to get the cops off of them or else the plane will take off without them. There's a pretty funny twist at the end of it that has no real bearing on the story but are just great little bits.
Or the mission where you are The Driver's Best Friend's Son has been kidnapped and in order to track down the kidnapper before he kills the child is to follow all of his directions and drive only on the back alleys.
I mean there is even a mission that is (loosely based on) the plot for SPEED. How awesome is that?
There's a FUCKING DELOREAN IN THE GAME…AND SOMETHING ACTUALLY HAPPENS IF YOU DRIVE IT AT 88 MPH.
This game in general is just...you know...it's a game you can just play. Excuse the use of the 'buzzword' here but the game is just FUN. The story is sort of crazy and really fits in place with a bad TV Sci-Fi show and the gameplay does sort of drag near the end...but in same way you can just turn on an average or above average game and just GO is pretty much how I like D: SF.
I heard it sold decent enough, so here's hoping that it gets a sequel or some sort of follow-up. I would really love to see what kind of stuff they could do with the SHIFT in a new setting…perhaps with different types of vehicles.
For now though? I am fully content with Driver: San Francisco being AWESOME.
See? Told you it was going to be a short one. I like doing these short little positive rants where I completely just ride the dick of the current game I am playing the hell out of. It's always good to play those games that were overlooked.
I guess I could go ahead and chuck in a Working Question here.
You've all read my rant regarding Capcom and the SFxTK DLC. Capcom responded to everyone pretty much saying that in its mind DLC (Downloadable Content) and Content put on disc and then unlocked via a code at a later date has no distinction and is one in the same. Do you agree? Is there really a difference between content downloaded at a later date versus content that was already on the disc and just unlocked later via code?
You already know my take on it (I paid for the disc and everything on it) but what is yours?
Until next time, I'm Jordan Williams…and I don't think I have a YouTube video to post this week. So I'll just sign off by saying FREE GOOTECKS.